The Duchossois Family Foundation donates nearly $1M to Veteran Business Project

  • Left to Right:  Dale Eisenberg, Ray Novak, Erich Totsch, Lynn Lowder

    Left to Right: Dale Eisenberg, Ray Novak, Erich Totsch, Lynn Lowder

Updated 2/27/2023 3:22 PM

The Duchossois Family Foundation (TDFF) has generously donated $935,000 to help further Veteran Business Project's (VBP) mission of "Getting Veterans Into Business" for themselves. VBP is a certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

The funding, spread over a three-year period, addresses projected expansion goals, provides technology and marketing support, and the hiring of additional business coaches.


"We deeply believe in the Veteran Business Project and their efforts to help launch the next generation of veteran entrepreneurs," said Mary Ann Roeser, President of The Duchossois Family Foundation. "Small business is the backbone of the American economy, and veterans are hard-wired for success in this arena - they just need access to capital, networking, and mentorship. Veteran Business Project provides this critical support and much more."

Veteran Business Project is proud to enter this long-term partnership with TDFF, one of the country's most committed and generous philanthropic organizations, and we are grateful for their support," said Lynn Lowder, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, co-founder, and CEO of Veteran Business Project.

Together, with Co-founder Dale Eisenberg, they established a unique program similar to the model of "eharmony©," where their "vharmony" team connects and serves Veterans wanting to purchase a business with existing business owners wanting to sell. In many cases, it's better for a veteran to take over an existing, profitable business wanting to sell, as opposed to a start-up.

As a Vietnam Marine veteran, Lynn Lowder has a unique perspective on what drives veterans and the need to be the captain of their own ship... which was literally the case regarding the deal VBP helped complete for two Iraqi war Navy veterans. VBP matched Ray and Erich up with Wintrust Bank in Chicago and guided them through the entire process to obtain the needed financing to purchase their Tour Boat business. Today, Chicago Fire Boat Tours is thriving and on the water, providing sightseeing and educational tours on Chicago's river and lakefront. (

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Another notable success story is Beth Floyd-Jenks and Mary Kite, two Iraqi war Navy Seabees who were best friends and dreamed of buying a small cafe in Villa Grove, Il. Both were service disabled but didn't let that damper their dreams. After reaching out to VBP for guidance and support, VBP also granted them a $5,000 gift from VBP's "Help A Hero" granting fund to help with some unforeseen closing costs. Today they now own and operate The Korner Beehive just as they had dreamed, in their hometown.

Hope is at the heart of what VBP is all about. Every completed deal that comes to press offers that hope, not just for a veteran who may be at risk but also for their families. If others can see what happened for Erich and Ray or Beth and Mary is possible, then hope can truly come forth, giving other veterans the courage to persevere and follow their dreams.

If you know of veterans who VBP can help or someone looking to sell their business, directing them to the VBP website at can make a life-changing difference.

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